Improve Education & Labor Markets

education-dosomething-dot-org-250x183When I was a senior, I was not sure what I could do after I graduated from college. I tried to find my way by analyzing my personality and ability along with knowledge I have learned from school. After that, I thought being a marketing analyst might fit me. I started to think how I could achieve this goal? What knowledge and experiences I should have to be qualified to this position? Besides going to school, what else should I do to improve my ability? And are there many opportunities for me in markets?

Today, many schools offer their students consulting services, such as helping students find work opportunities and identifying their characters, interests and abilities. Those services are useful to help students find their ways. However, can those services be further improved to strengthen a connection between education and labor markets? Yes, they can. Data mining plays a key role in accomplishing this job.

Now, thousands of companies use data mining systems to improve their businesses. For example, firms apply CRM (customer relationship management) systems to identify customers’ needs. By doing that, firms are able to adjust their services or products in the moment to increase their costumers’ satisfaction.Correspondingly, applying a data mining system to our education can be very helpful to reform our education and labor markets.

Our society has invested a great amount of money and labor force in primary, secondary and higher education. Through managing and analyzing data, we are able to know how our inputs influence or produce outputs. For instance, we can identify which academic practices need to be held back and and which need to be encouraged. We are able to offer advanced trainings to students in order to match industries’ needs. By using a data mining system, we can accelerate the process of data collection and management and also receive more precise data. Researchers, legislators and educators will be able to receive information from the system and further make improvement on their works.

The United States Federal Government has developed Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grant Program, to improve American education and labor markets since 2005. Until now, Virginia and the other 46 states have received the grant to establish their education data systems. In Jan. 2013, the Virginia government launched Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS). VLDS has collected Virginia education and workforce data from the government and other reliable agents. VLDS will improve the state’s education and workforce systems, and other state services.

More information about how to use data mining systems to improve education, please read: How data and analytics can improve education.

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Why Is This Important to Virginians?

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Have you ever heard that Wal-Mart displayed beer next to diapers in the store and sales increased? How did this happen? Wal-Mart used their data mining system to analyze all the customer transactions. It turned out that beer was most often sold with diapers. The store tried to figure out the correlation between these two products. They found out that many wives asked their husbands to buy diapers, because a pack of diapers is too heavy for women to carry. On Friday afternoon, their husbands, who just left work, would like to buy beer at the grocery store to drink on the weekend. Accordingly, they bought the diapers and beer at the same time. Such a coincidence! If the store didn’t have the data mining system, would they notice this coincidence? Maybe, but it would have cost them more on time and labor consumptions.

Although some people may judge this story as more like an urban legend, it is a good example to promote the concept of big data. Here, you probably start wondering: Besides Wal-Mart, how have other companies used a big data system to improve their businesses? T-Mobile has integrated their multiple data systems to collect and analyze their customer transactions. By leveraging social media, CRM and billing data, they cut their customers’ dissatisfaction in half within three months. Hertz has applied an advance data analytic system to better predict their customer defections. The company was able to identify where, when and how problems occurred immediately, and then made adjustments to the business. Today, many companies use a big data system to improve their businesses. So does Virginia government! (For more big data case studies, please see 6 Case Studies Prove ROI of Big Data)

In 2010, the Virginia government launched the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS). VLDS was developed by five organizations: Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), Virginia Community College System (VCCG) and Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA). VLDS has collected Virginia education and workforce data from the government and other reliable agents. VLDS has been designed to make improvements in the state’s education, workforce systems, and other state services. For example, researchers receive data from VLDS and apply those data to improve their studies. Legislators use data from VLDS to establish laws and make decisions about laws.

In an initial stage, only researchers, legislators and some permitted partners are allowed to access VLDS. However, the system might be available for the public in the future.

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